Wednesday, October 31, 2007
'My So-Called Life'
Two girls joking around in front of some shops. "So I started hanging out with Rayanne Graff," the narrator, one of the girls, says. "Just for fun, just 'cause it seemed like if I didn't I would die or something.

"Things were getting to me," she continues. "Just how people are. How they always expect you to be a certain way -- even your best friend."

So begins the first episode of "My So-Called Life," the ABC show that lasted all of 19 episodes in 1994-95. Its ratings were poor, but its impact was deep -- a recent New York Times article refers to a bounty of Web sites devoted to the show, and a boxed set (quickly pulled) that now goes for up to $300 on eBay.

For those who couldn't get ahold of that old box, deliverance is at hand: Shout! Factory has just released a new box of six DVDs, including commentary from creator Winnie Holzman, producer Marshall Herskovitz, director Scott Winant, and cast members Claire Danes, Bess Armstrong and several others. The sixth disc is a group of featurettes.

I was a big fan of "My So-Called Life" during its short run. The Herskovitz-Ed Zwick producing team was the initial draw for me (you've heard the phrase, "I'd watch so-and-so read the phone book"? Well, I'd watch a Herskovitz and Zwick production of the phone book), but I was quickly sucked in by Holzman's wonderful writing, the pitch-perfect atmosphere and Danes' amazing performance as Angela Chase.

And, as a then 29-year-old male, I wasn't even the show's target audience, if there was such a thing. But it seemed like to watch the show was to love it.

I remember being heartened by a conversation with a friend of mine, the father of an adolescent girl. He and his daughter had hit a rough stretch, but watching "My So-Called Life" together -- and talking about all the issues the show dealt with -- helped heal their breach. It was that kind of show; it just got in your bones.

None of that was enough to save it, of course. As Joss Whedon points out in an essay accompanying the box, "It was before its time, not just in its quality, but in the way we watch TV." (Its final episode even ended on a crucial, unresolved plot point -- try THAT nowadays.) But it's lived on. That's a nice "Life" to have.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The real 'American Gangster'
"American Gangster," with its terrific pedigree (Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Steven Zaillian), comes out Friday. Advance reviews -- admittedly a small sampling -- have been mostly positive.

But if you want to get a sense of the real Frank Lucas -- Washington's character in the film -- check out Mark Jacobson's terrific 2000 article from New York magazine. If Washington can get half of this guy's charisma on screen, it'll be the performance of the year.

And there's also a documentary on Lucas, scheduled to air on BET October 31 at 10 p.m. ET. "He is every bit as gifted as you would expect," writes The New Yorker's David Denby. "He's also boastful, cynical, and, as far as we can see, dead to the bottom of the place where his soul should be."

That dovetails neatly with a description from Jacobson's wife. Hearing his interview tapes, she "leaned back in her chair," Jacobson writes. " 'Oh,' she said, 'you're doing a story on Satan ...' "
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Occasional musings and gab about the world of entertainment.
ARCHIVE
• 10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
• 10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006
• 11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006
• 11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006
• 11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
• 12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
• 12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
• 12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
• 12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
• 12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
• 01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
• 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
• 01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
• 01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
• 02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
• 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
• 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
• 02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007
• 03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
• 03/11/2007 - 03/18/2007
• 03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
• 03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007
• 04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007
• 04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007
• 04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007
• 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
• 04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
• 05/06/2007 - 05/13/2007
• 05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
• 05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
• 05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007
• 06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007
• 06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007
• 06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007
• 07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
• 07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
• 07/15/2007 - 07/22/2007
• 07/22/2007 - 07/29/2007
• 07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
• 08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
• 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
• 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
• 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
• 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
• 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
• 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
• 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
• 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
• 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
• 10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
• 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
• 10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
• 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
• 11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
• 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
• 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
• 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
• 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007
• 12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008
• 01/06/2008 - 01/13/2008
• 01/13/2008 - 01/20/2008
SUBSCRIBE
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.
Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.